After such a drastic shift in world climates and social atmospheres, the world needs a little sunshine. For some, that happiness comes from Pride Month. Whether you identify as a community member or an ally, Pride is meant to spread love and joy to those around you in the spirit of equity and inclusion. At Chief Gigs, we humbly off these tips to supplement the celebrations happening across the globe. Here is how you can make your newly-out LGBTQ+ employees more comfortable in the workplace.
First, What is Pride Month?
Pride Month is the time of year when all sexual orientations and gender identities are recognized and celebrated. It began with the Stonewall Riots in Manhattan, NY. Police faced off with LGBTQ+ protesters for six days. Pride became Pride from a riot. Today, the queer community, and their allies, stand together. They honor their identities and show they are proud to be themselves in this month’s celebration.
What If Someone Comes Out at Work?
An employee or coworker decides to trust you and/or your team with their sexuality. This is a unique situation that seldom occurs. Most LBGTQ+ people choose to withhold their sexualities for fear of social exclusion, workplace prejudice, and work-related consequences by those they work with or around. Those who have come out are five times more likely to face discrimination. So how can you ensure that they have the same experience as your other employees?
- Use inclusive language. Depending on their preferred pronouns or how that employee would like to be addressed, your lingo may need an update. Using non-inclusive terms may make your employee feel unwelcome and disrespected that their pronouns are not being used or recognized. It is okay to make mistakes, but correct yourself and quickly move on. If you accommodate their needs as an employee, you validate the trust they placed in you with their identity.
- Create a safe and inclusive environment through your team. As a manager, you wouldn’t be the only one to make some changes to your workplace. If the employee came out to the whole team, one must take the initiative to ensure they feel safe coming in to work. Plan a workshop on anti-discrimination. Send out an email with your policies regarding the LGBTQ+ community. Hold a meeting with you and your team to discuss an LGBTQ+ support network. Maintaining a safe environment through the straight members of your team offers LGBTQ+ employees security in the workplace.
- Correct those who say or post homophobic or transphobic comments. This falls into the category of discussing an inclusive workplace with your team. However, it is imperative that you maintain your standards for how to address any discrimination towards the employee for their sexuality. For the sake of your employee and company policy, be sure to reprimand and issue consequences to those who discriminate against your LGBTQ+ coworkers and employees. If you would like some more examples of how to call people out in the workplace, check out this blog by Maya Hu-Chan about “Calling In vs. Calling Out: How to Talk About Inclusion” from Inc.com.
These are some ideas as to how to make your work environment a little safer for the LGBTQ+ members of your workplace.
- Maintain Confidentiality: Do not disclose their sexuality or gender identity to anyone else. If this employee told you about their sexual orientation, they meant to tell only you. Dispersing that information directly disrespects their privacy and could put them in harm’s way, depending on who the information reached. If they told your team, this applies to them as well. Coming out to someone, let alone your supervisor or coworkers, can be difficult enough. Allow your employee to share that information with whom they choose when they are ready.
- Use the Right Pronouns: The way you address your coworker or employee should depend on the terms which you discuss with them. If they have come out to their coworkers and are okay with openly using their pronouns, you should do so. If not, clarify the terms by which you should address the employee to others they are not out to. Do not intentionally use the wrong pronouns when referring to your employee. This happens often in people’s everyday lives. This employee trusted you with a vulnerable part of themselves that would not be shared with just anybody. Please take care to respect their pronouns and preferences when talking with them or about them to your peers.
- Support Your Team: Do not make discrimination their fault or responsibility. Discrimination is a large part of marginalized identities. I have personally been on the receiving end of customers shouting atrocities at me in the workplace. Instead of supporting me, I have been told by management to simply ‘deal with it’ or ‘You probably said something to make them angry, anyway’. One of the worst feelings in that position was knowing my supervisor would do nothing to support me. Please be sure to stand up for your employees if they are put in this situation.
Pride is about being who you are unapologetically, and most members of the LGBTQ+ community feel as though they have to hide their true selves at work. I hope that with these starting tips, you, too, can find creating an inclusive workplace easier.
As a member of the queer community or an ally, we at Chief Gigs wish you a safe and Happy Pride!
If you want more information, here are a few sources from both managers’ and employees’ points of view on coming out at work!